I am so excited to bring this post to you, courtesy of Anna Crowe Bates of Noodle, about choosing the right preschool for your child.
Noodle is the leading website helping parents and students make better education decisions. Using our interactive search tools, families can find the right kindergarten, liberal arts college, French tutor, or any other learning resource based on individual interests, strengths, and needs. In addition, they can read expert-authored articles, ask questions and get answers from some of the leading minds in education, and connect with others in their communities.
Choosing the Right Preschool for Your Child
There are so many options when it comes to preschools. It is sometimes difficult to navigate the system keeping in mind the right fit for your child and family specifically. I know when searching for preschools for my son, I had a long list of ‘must-haves’ in mind, and wish I had known about Noodle’s Preschool Search Engine! Anna highlights family needs, environment, potty-training and education philosophy below.
What to keep in mind
The first year of school for your child is filled with many amazing moments. It’s a time of emotional, physical, social, and intellectual development. It’s also a tough time for parents facing the challenge of finding the “right” preschool for their family. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every family searching for a preschool. So, we’ve put together these tips for what you should look for when choosing the right preschool for your child:
Ask yourself: why are you enrolling your child in preschool? Does your child need more educational stimulation than your current childcare provider? Does your child need more interaction with other children? There is no wrong answer. Think about what works best for your family. Do you need a preschool close to home or work? Is cost a factor? Consider all of these questions before pursuing your preschool of choice.
The school environment plays a major role in the preschool experience. Children learn how to coexist together at preschool. They also are going through the learning process together. When touring a preschool, consider if the outdoor area looks clean and safe and if the classrooms are warm and inviting.
Not all preschools require students be potty trained before the first day of school. As parents, we sometimes struggle with potty training (check out my tips here). Don’t add more stress to the mix by giving yourself a deadline. Children often become motivated when seeing other children succeeding in potty training, so the end is near! However, if this is a concern for you, be sure to ask what the specific requirements are for the preschool you’re looking at.
From traditional to progressive,and academic to play-based, choosing a preschool for your child has become similar to choosing a college. The different philosophical frameworks are based around knowledge, skills, attitude and expectations. By choosing the a preschool philosophy for your child, you’re also setting the stage for your expectations at home. For example, the Waldorf philosophy is centered around imagination and creative thinking while traditional schools are more structured. It depends on what you feel more comfortable with.
Now, you’ve narrowed it down to favorite preschools and it’s time to contact the school. Before reaching out, be prepared with a list of questions. Here are a few to ask:
- Do you have extended hours?
- What will the tuition rate be for my child?
- What other expenses will be needed throughout the year?
- What parent involvement is required?
- Is your preschool licensed or certified?
This last question is so important not only to your sanity as a parent, but also to the safety of your child. Preschool regulations vary from state-to-state so it’s great to have an understanding of how these rules work within your state.
Photo credit: Children with arms up: depositphotos.com, thumbs up: depositphotos.com
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Kimberly Cox says
We are considering this now, as I know by next year for sure we will need my oldest in a Preschool of some type. Thanks so much for the great tips, I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this article in the near future.
Thanks for reading Kimberly!
These are some great tips! I live in a smallish area Siegel my daughter started school last year we just signed her up for the school everyone raves about. We assumed it had to be awesome since there was a wait list. Boy was that not the way to pick a school lol… Everything about the school made me so mad! No crafts?!?! If I called “art” crafts to my child they would get all mad lol…. We ended up finding a better school filled with crafting and fun! Definitely research schools before sending kids off to them, no matter how highly sought out they are!
This is a great checklist to have! The extended hours is a must for some schools that have really short days! Sometimes parents have no clue where to start — i didn’t and just had to my word-of-mouth recommendations!
T Austin says
This can be a really stressful decision! We attended several open houses before making our final decision. Great tips and considerations!
Tarynn Playle says
I feel like I lucked out. I signed my daughter up for a place because I had a friend whose daughter was going there. It worked out where we really love the school and the teachers!
We thought about all of these while picking a preschool for our daughter. Now we are debating if we are going to be switching her to another preschool or not in the new year. She has a spot in one closer to us, but we fear she will be heartbroken if we move her.
Our son starts on Nov. 3rd and we went with the school at our church. We know the place, the people and love our church so I’m hoping the preschool serves us well.
Melissa (Wading Through Motherhood) says
These are great tips and questions to ask! I love the preschool my kids go to….we looked around quite a bit before we found one we were happy with.
This is such a tough decision to make. On post I don’t really have a choice, but when J was younger I put a lot of thought into it. These are some excellent points to look into when choosing!
Ridley Fitzgerald says
Finding the right preschool can be hard. I appreciate your tips for doing it, especially the one about potty training. My son is having some trouble getting trained, so I definitely don’t want to give him and myself a deadline!